A planned bicycle playground in Coleman Memorial Park for youngsters looks like a win-win situation for the community and the city, as the project is expected to cost the city little or nothing.
Lebanon’s City Council authorized Mayor Sherry Capello to execute a memorandum of understanding with the Susquehanna Area Mountain Bike Association for the development and maintenance of a bicycle playground at city-owned land in Coleman Memorial Park at this week’s council meeting.
SAMBA is the local chapter of the international mountain bike association, and represents experts in responsible off-road biking.
The MOU includes consultation for the design and construction of the park, Mayor Capello said, which will be aimed at a younger set of bike riders.
The best news; the project will essentially be free for the city.
Both the Lebanon Valley Bicycle Coalition and the Lebanon Community Health Council have contributed funding for the project, while Nikki Maurer, executive director of the Health Council, has applied for a grant to go toward the project, the mayor said.
Little bikers can use the trails to learn to ride bicycles without having to go on public streets, the mayor added.
“It will be a safe place to ride,” Capello said. “I believe we can have a great association with them (SAMBA).”
Volunteers in SAMBA will do the construction needed for the bicycle playground and will also provide technical support.
“They will also supervise the volunteers during the construction, and will consult with the park director,” Capello said.
The playground will be located in a grassy, hilly area surrounded by trees, between the existing tennis courts and concession stand, Capello said.
It will be fully fenced and near an existing pavilion and restrooms.
“Families could rent the pavilion and might have bicycle playground birthday parties there,” Capello said.
The bicycle playground has not been fully designed yet, but is expected to have small hills and be primarily circular in shape. It is expected to have “pump tracks” and beginner trails.
SAMBA would prefer not to cut down trees, although that might be necessary, depending on the design.
If the bicycle playground design would extend into the park’s nature trail, permission would be needed from Coleman Memorial Park to execute that design.
Construction on the bicycle playground will begin after the park’s aging pool is demolished, Capello said.
Currently, the city’s public works director is looking for bid specifications to award for the pool demolition. Start date for that work is unknown.
At December’s Council meeting, it was decided to demolish the pool due to its condition and the expense the city would incur trying to repair it, Capello said.
The above-ground pool is surrounded by rebar, which is rusting, allowing pieces of concrete to separate and fall from the rebar.
“It has outgrown its usefulness; it’s falling apart,” Capello said.
The new bicycle playground will not be located at the pool’s location, she said.
City resident Ronald Bennett of Weidman Street addressed Council, expressing hope that the Gingrich Memorial Pool could be saved.
“It all sounds good,” Bennett said, referring to the bicycle playground. “But a majority of people like to swim, not ride bike.
“As an alumnus of Lebanon High School, I can’t believe I can’t bring my family to the pool.”
Bennett said he had many good memories of the pool while growing up, and wanted to know how much it would cost to repair the pool.
Capello explained the pool structure was in such deteriorated shape that repair wasn’t an option.
The city intends to replace the pool with another form of recreation, possibly a “splash pad,” Capello said.
A partnership with the YMCA is another possibility, she said.
In the near future, the city will solicit input from residents for ideas to replace the pool, Capello said.
“Our doors are always open for future discussion,” Capello said.
In another matter, County Treasurer Sallie Neuin was re-appointed to the City of Lebanon Land Bank for a five-year term, effective Feb. 9, 2020.
Neuin was first appointed in 2017.
“We’re blessed to have so many great people in the city to serve,” said Council Chairperson Wayne Carey.
Carey reminded everyone that this coming Friday, March 6, is Lebanon’s “First Friday,” which features special entertainment and meals throughout much of the city.
“The Arts Council is doing a great job with this,” Carey said.
Regarding reaching people for the upcoming national census, Carey said the city is working on public outreach and education, and counting on several agencies to spread the word.
Educational materials and posters will also be in Spanish, Carey said.
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